Per Manum 8×8: Don’t make me guess.


PerManum250.jpg

Never give up on a miracle.

Questions. I have so, so many questions.

I don’t know if this will end up being a review or a loosely organized series of interrogatives. You have been warned.

Season 8 has a glaring problem, other than the absence of Mulder, a startling trend that I’ve noticed. Instead of propelling the story forward with new developments, it goes back to plots that the audience thought they understood and turns them inside out by reinventing the past. This is a shortcut to drama since 1013 already knows that we’re emotionally invested in Mulder and Scully and the things that they’ve been through. But it’s potentially dangerous because this method of manufacturing interest by pulling the rug out from under your audience creates instability. They’ve already done it once with the “Mulder was dying” plot. Now they’re doing it again with Scully’s baby.

“Per Manum” exists mainly to rock any assumptions we might have naturally made about the paternity of Scully’s baby. When we first found out about the baby in the Season 7 finale “Requiem” (7×22), it had already been confirmed in “all things” (7×17) that Mulder and Scully were sleeping together and based on that knowledge and Scully’s choice of words and facial expressions when she announces her pregnancy to Skinner, it was safe to assume that Scully at least believed she had conceived this baby with Mulder the old fashioned way. She was supposed to have been barren so it was a shock, but it was a happy shock, a miracle.

Then comes Season 8 when 1013 tries to convince us that nothing was ever as it seemed. Mulder and Scully weren’t as blissfully happy as they looked in Season 7. Mulder was dying almost that whole time.

Yes, I got that memo.

Now, they’re telling us that not only is the paternity of Scully’s baby up in the air, the circumstances leading up to the conception cast doubt not only on the timeline of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, but even on if it was what we thought it was.

It all starts off with Scully remembering a conversation with Mulder on an elevator. This is the first we’ve seen Mulder and Scully together since “Requiem” and what should be one of my happiest fangirl moments ever is… awkward. It’s actually awkward. I mean David Duchovny looks physically uncomfortable taking part in this ridiculous conversation in which best friends and possible lovers discuss fertility failures and an ova rescue.

Scully admits to Mulder that she’s a little upset over hearing the news that she’s definitely barren. Mulder then admits to Scully that he funky poached her ova back in “Memento Mori” (4×15) and has been hiding them and the secret that they’re no good from Scully.

Scratch the record.

I’m sorry, but didn’t Mulder already confess that to Scully in front of a judge in “Emily” (5×7)?

Right. Moving on.

So Scully gets a second opinion and visits Dr. Parenti. How did that wind up happening? How did she just happen to end up with a doctor who specializes in implanting alien fetuses in women who are alien abductees? I say alien fetuses, but I’m supposed to be assuming that these are a part of the alien-human hybrid experiments, yes? Those experiments are continuing even though the Syndicate is dead, plans for colonization are continuing and the aliens have been criss crossing the country to destroy all evidence of the hybridization project as of “Within” (8×1)? Who is continuing these experiments and why? And how did they manipulate Scully into visiting Dr. Parenti originally?

Regardless of what I don’t know, Scully is told that she might have a shot, she just needs to find a semen donor. Naturally, she asks Mulder, a moment which wisely takes place off screen. Mulder gives it some thought before agreeing and they have an incredibly lovely interaction that makes up for their previous scene together and that leaves me totally confused.

This must take place in Season 7. I know it can’t be so far out as Season 6 because the treatments have to be recent enough before Scully’s pregnancy in order for them to be a viable option for how she got pregnant. That means it would make the most sense for this conversation to take place late in Season 7. Late in Season 7 we know that Mulder and Scully were romantically involved.

Yet the vibe here between Mulder and Scully, while as close as ever, is not one of lovers. Their relationship is left ambiguous – on purpose, I’m sure. But if Mulder and Scully were already in an exclusive romantic relationship, would she ask him to help her have a baby or would she in effect be asking him to start a family? Would Mulder’s response be that he’s flattered, or rather would it be strange for her to want to have anyone else’s baby when she’s in a relationship with him? Would Mulder be worried whether her carrying his baby would come between them, or would he be worried about whether he’d even get to see the baby seeing as how he’s dying and he probably won’t live long enough for it to come between them?

Maybe they were lovers before this conversation, maybe after. Who knows? 1013 is purposefully playing coy with the cannon. It’s like, oh, I dunno, they want us to keep watching to the end of the season to receive confirmation that Mulder and Scully are an item and that this is their baby. Funny. I thought we’d been there done that in Season 7. Whatever. I have more questions.

If Scully had been receiving IVF treatments, and receiving them recently enough that she believed this pregnancy could possibly be a result of them, why would she look so shocked at the end of “Requiem” (7×22)? Gillian Anderson didn’t play that scene like a woman who had been trying to get pregnant and found out that despite what the doctors had told her she was successful. She played it like a woman who thought pregnant was the last thing in the world she would ever be.

I just… I can’t. My head hurts.

After all my questions, only one really matters: Scully became pregnant per manum, by hand, but was it by the hand of man or the hand of God?

Verdict:

Hello, mythology! Where did you go? Are we going to continue to explore this theme? Is this the next stage? Are they going to take this elaborate conspiracy anywhere, or does this plot merely serve as a means to make us worry about Scully’s pregnancy and question the paternity of her baby? Why do I suspect it’s the latter?

Well, I’m not giving up on my miracle. Whatever ridiculata may surround them, Mulder and Scully are gold. Pure gold. That thing that they have that resists definition, it’s a gift from God to television watchers everywhere. There was that hiccup on the elevator, sure, but the rest of their scenes together only reminded me how much I miss their connection. I also desperately miss Mulder and the humor and humanity he brought to the show. I may or may not have sobbed his name several times during the watching of “Per Manum”.

If there’s any bright side to the unnecessary drama it’s Gillian Anderson’s performance. In the opening shot after the teaser, she shows us a beautiful mixture of wonder and joy and sadness as Scully contemplates the life growing inside her and the absence of its presumed father. Then there’s a brilliant shot of Scully over the shoulder of Mr. Haskell as he recounts his wife’s story. You see Scully’s face shift from skepticism to recognition as the camera pans across Mr. Haskell from behind. That was a bit of brilliance. Thank you, Kim Manners.

And that’s it. I’ve worn myself out. All I have left to say is that mind games are fine in their place, but when you change the past to fit the present, chaos ensues.

B+

Even More Questions:

Scully was afraid the F.B.I. would force her to stop looking for Mulder if they found out she was pregnant. Well, they’re going to find out soon no matter what, so it’s high time she got a move on before she starts showing and she’s physically unable to look for Mulder. There’s been a time crunch this whole time that Season 8 has ignored.

Scully’s only fourteen weeks along? Huh? Scully found out she was pregnant in May. We know this episode is after the date on the pre-recorded ultrasound tape. That means it takes place in late November at the earliest. Baby timeline…. I give up.

How did Miss Hendershot know about Scully and where she lived?

Why did Skinner and Scully call Doggett out in the middle of the night just to tell him that Scully was taking leave? If you weren’t going to tell him anything, you could’ve not told him at the office.That said, by telling him earlier that Dr. Parenti was her doctor, wasn’t Scully admitting to being pregnant anyway? Why get shy now?

The conspirators appear to have wanted access to Scully all along which is why they sent Haskell and were willing to give up Miss Hendershot and her baby to get at Scully. But didn’t they already have access to Scully through Dr. Parenti? Why warn Scully that something might be wrong with her baby at all? She would be completely pliable if she remained ignorant.

Comments:

Anne!! It’s Anne! Megan Follows from Anne of Green Gables plays the doomed Mrs. Haskell in the opening teaser. That series of books was my first true love. Ah, I love it when obsessions collide.

We as the audience know this wasn’t all in Scully’s head. We saw the alien babies. We heard Haskell’s phone call and we know the doctors or somebody is after Scully’s baby. That would only be the case if they believed her baby to be alien.

That Duffy Haskell twist was a good one.

The actor who plays Duffy Haskell was also in “Demons” (4×23). It’s good to see an actor from the Vancouver era again.

This marks the first appearance of Knowle Rohrer.

It’s good to realize that Scully is vulnerable in her condition. You feel for her and are scared with her.

Did you spot Mark Snow?

Best Quotes:

Doggett: Your assistant said you were going to get right back to me about this David Haskell fingerprint.
Knowle Rohrer: I’ve got a day job, John. The government gets suspicious if I work at too fast a pace.

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44 responses to “Per Manum 8×8: Don’t make me guess.

  1. “And what should be one of my happiest fangirl moments ever is… awkward. It’s actually awkward. I mean David Duchovny looks physically uncomfortable taking part in this ridiculous conversation”

    AGREED. This scene has always bothered me!

    • This is the thing about this blog: Now I know when I’m not alone. ‘Cause I totally thought it was just me who cringed.

      • Oh no, it’s not just you, it’s true. I’ve watched it many times trying to dissect it…my inner dialogue: “what’s wrong with it? Is it the continuity errors bothering me? Were the actors aware of that? Was David bored to be back at that point? Is it written poorly? Is it because it already happened in Emily? What?! I know there’s something wrong. Gah!”

        • If we’re going to try to pinpoint it, I don’t think I start to think that something’s wrong until Scully says, “I know you were always there for me during my cancer.” And then I’m sure something’s wrong by the time Mulder steps out of the elevator and turns around. The dialogue just doesn’t fit their situation. Maybe it’s because they were trying to cast doubt on the status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship and so were purposefully making them sound a little distant?

          Really, the whole conversation is strange. And speaking of Emily, why is she never mentioned through all this? She’s never mentioned ever again. You’d think her lost daughter would be on Scully’s mind.

          • Yes, I agree it’s definitely the distance between them. It’s forced – putting them at odds. I mean why are they so cold with one another? I don’t
            believe that’s how it would go. (Of course that doesn’t take away from my love of the rest of the show and those other two great scenes in this episode. It’s more of a head-scratching why?? Why were these choices made? I feel like if I know why then I can accept it.)

            You’re totally right, why doesn’t Emily ever get mentioned? Where’s Vince Gilligan when we need continuity police? Ha.

  2. Chris and the gang needed you to spot check for them too many errors 😊

  3. A while back I scrolled through this episode to watch the M/S scenes (the extent of my S8 engagement) and, ITA, the elevator conversation was just plain awkward — which is AGAINST ALL NATURAL LAW. I can only guess that DD/GA also recognized the scene was utterly ridiculous, thus shooting IT was a demoralizing experience for them :-<

    "Whatever ridiculata may surround them, Mulder and Scully are gold. Pure gold. That thing that they have that resists definition, it’s a gift from God to television watchers everywhere."
    … and lo, Salome summarizes my entire relationship with the "X Files".

    Their forehead sex is my bliss. *sigh*

    • Yes! They should never be awkward! They’re never awkward! I don’t know what was going on. There was a disturbance in the force or something.

      Or that conversation was just irredeemable.

      But honestly. That chemistry of theirs is a miracle. You can actually feel it radiating off of the screen. Wait, no. You can actually feel their emotions right along with them. It’s crazy. And it’s not a sexual, lust driven thing like most of the copycat ships now. They just have it, whatever “it” is.

    • “Their forehead sex is my bliss. *sigh*”

      I’ve heard of EyeSex but THIS is the best expression ever! Ah M/S ForeheadSex 😀

  4. I found myself actually holding my breath during the M/S scenes. I think that original one was awkward because of the conversation itself. It’s just…ridiculous and not just because this was already established in Emily. But their chemistry! Ugh…it’s magical. Rewatching all of season 8 really emphasizes how great they are together. I missed this so much! The show just isn’t the same and we’ll never have the old x-files again, but at least we can get a taste of why we fell in love with it and them.

    This episode brings up my other hated plot of season 8: Who’s the daddy? And it’s not that they just bring it up now in one episode, she finds a trusted doctor, and she gets a paternity test to prove it’s Mulder’s child. No. They drag it out so bad and make it so awkward that it ruins what could have been a better second half of the season. I mean…they didn’t want M/S to get together because romance is evil and would mean everything would turn into a soap opera. But instead of letting their relationship progress naturally and then just accept that they were together, they seemed to do everything in their power to CREATE a soap opera.

    The biggest drama on the ENTIRE SHOW was Mulder getting ABDUCTED and they did nothing useful with it. NOTHING. They created more, stupid drama around it, but never used this wonderful plot line to bring them further along. No taking steps forward for us! Instead, let’s take ten steps back, run around in circles for a while and attempt to take steps forward to get back to our original place only to find out that we can’t find it. Who is driving this crazy train? What the heck is going on??

    • I mean…they didn’t want M/S to get together because romance is evil and would mean everything would turn into a soap opera. But instead of letting their relationship progress naturally and then just accept that they were together, they seemed to do everything in their power to CREATE a soap opera.

      I could kiss you for this comment right here. This is EXACTLY what I was JUST pacing my room thinking about as I pondered the Season 8 Wrap Up. The relationship progression was so natural right up to Season 8. We didn’t need to see them act lovey dovey for the camera. Just let it be what it naturally is. By bringing it up, swirling it about and turning it upside down, it only turns a subtle romance into something contrived. Fortunately, it couldn’t be destroyed. But some of the drama was unnecessary and ineffective.

      Sadly, I suspect that Mulder and Scully coming together still gets some of the blame for the series’ eventual decline. It wasn’t that at all. Much of it was the way the baby situation was handled.

      And why didn’t Scully just get a paternity test??? Too simple? Too quick?

      The biggest drama on the ENTIRE SHOW was Mulder getting ABDUCTED and they did nothing useful with it. NOTHING. They created more, stupid drama around it, but never used this wonderful plot line to bring them further along. No taking steps forward for us! Instead, let’s take ten steps back, run around in circles for a while and attempt to take steps forward to get back to our original place only to find out that we can’t find it.

      It’s so sad, but this is something else I was thinking about. I think they simply ran out of time. They had to rush Mulder through his readjustment in “Three Words”. They had to resolve his character individually, his relationship with Scully, and get him to pass the baton in the span of six episodes. And by that point, we weren’t just dealing with Mulder and Scully, but Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, Krycek, Kersh and the Lone Gunmen. He had to settle things with all of them. Not to mention the baby.

      In a dream world, I wish the Mulder abduction plot had happened at/toward the beginning of Season 7 while he was searching for Samantha. Bring Mulder back after a few episodes. Deal with the aftermath. Ramp up to the fight against colonization by the end.

      OR, I’ll take “Requiem” without Mulder disappearing and breaking my heart. Or maybe a two-parter where he comes back in the second episode.

  5. *cracks knuckles* *rolls neck* There are a few eps I’ve been waiting for you to get to, and this is one of them. I recently went past this in my rewatch, so it’s all sorts of fresh.

    So, new theory about the flashbacks–maybe they’re not as close to season 7/8 as they want us to think. Maybe the first scene (which I never noticed was awkward, but I’ll have to go back at some point and check it out) happened earlier–perhaps season 6. Ignoring that Mulder has already told Scully about the ova, let’s roll with this.

    Let’s assume that Dr. Parenti has made a big, noticeable name for himself in fertility. That would be enough to draw Scully to him. We can also assume that perhaps someone within the syndicate (before their annihilation) or within the government has helped in arena. That’s not outside the realm of possibility within this show. Even then, “moving quickly” in fertility can take some time. If nothing else, to not arouse suspicion, they would have to move at a certain speed and perform certain procedures to ready Scully for fertilization. I would suspect some of that would be true regardless of it being an alien embryo or human, but that’s not my area of expertise.

    However, this would account for Mulder and Scully not being in-sync as a couple. And Mulder worrying that it would come between them would fit in with that time frame. If this were happening around the end of season 6, when things were starting to get seriously flirty, he might genuinely be worried that this could come between their fledgling relationship (though, of course, he can deny her nothing). This could all, possibly, take place before the Biogenesis incident with Diana and such.

    I don’t know when their relationship began, though. I always assumed the physical aspect began with ‘all things.’ I never heard anything about that ep being a confirmation of their relationship. Even then, one could still assume that before New Year’s Eve, they were still relatively platonic. While it seems a little less likely Scully might jump right to asking Mulder to be a donor after all of the trauma he went through during The Sixth Extinction, it’s not impossible.

    For that matter, this all could have happened during season 5, which would definitely explain why things seem awkward. The writers are implying this is all recent, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no reason at all these flashback events couldn’t have happened earlier. Mulder comforting Scully would be the same pretty much no matter what, and she certainly would have asked him any time in between to father her child.

    I never saw this ep as a way to cast doubt on the baby’s paternity (though I’m sure it was), mostly because I never doubted it. Everyone I knew who watched the show at that point thought it was an alien baby or something done by CSM, but that never explained her happy reaction. I always knew Mulder was the father–never doubted it, no matter what. I saw this ep as sort of a road map to how Scully got to where she is now. Yes, she went through IVF and it ended sadly, and that’s how she came under Parenti’s care. It would make sense for her to stick with him because she wouldn’t think he was suspicious. It makes sense in the respect that Mulder did grab a vial of her ova, and it would stand to reason that he would hand that over at some point. While it’s not the most nicely tied up loose end, at least it’s a throwback to ‘Memento Mori’ and those events, stuff that I’d actually wondered about.

    HOWEVER, if the flashbacks of ‘Per Manum’ happened a year or so beforehand, that would definitely explain her disbelief. She would never assume, especially after going through fertility treatments, that she would get knocked up the old-fashioned way.

    Again, this is all assuming these events happened some time before season 7, or at least early within the calender year of season 7.

    Anyway, these are just my thoughts on the matter.

    • You’re hilarious!

      Okay, I’d be down with the Season 6 scenario, but if that’s true then Scully would have to have been having IVF treatments for nearly two years. I say that because even though she may not have gotten pregnant through IVF, she had treatment close enough to her pregnancy that it could be considered a possibility.

      Although, really, they can tell how far along you are. And a passing comment by Miss Hendershot about how she knew the father couldn’t have been her boyfriend because of the timing register’s tellingly on Scully’s face. Whether that means Scully recognized that the timing made it impossible for the baby to have come through IVF or through her union with Mulder, I guess we’ll see.

      Anyway, back to Season 6. That would mean again that 1013 was pulling out the rug from under us as the audience by telling us we never really knew Mulder or Scully and what they were up to. We already had that with Mulder’s disease. I’ve had enough of it. It would make more emotional sense toward the end of Season 7 than it does at any time in Season 7, though. Definitely.

      Parenti couldn’t have been a coincidence, though we’ll hear more on that in “Essence”.

      Frank Spotnitz did confirm that “all things” was meant to be a confirmation that they were already in a relationship. So we know that it started sometime before that. It actually comes out in the preceding episodes too. Their flirting goes up a couple of notches.

      I never saw this ep as a way to cast doubt on the baby’s paternity (though I’m sure it was), mostly because I never doubted it.

      I didn’t doubt it either. But I started to wonder how far they were going to take this paternity storyline and how long they were going to drag it out. Right to the end it turns out.

      It wasn’t my favorite.

      I still don’t get why she’s stick with Parenti since he’s a fertility specialist. He’s not your regular obgyn who delivers babies, he just gets you pregnant. But I forgive them because this was the most efficient way to introduce the plot. They could have done something that made more logical sense but it would have taken longer to establish and they only have so much time in an episode.

      We’ll wear ourselves out trying to get this to work on every level. It just wasn’t a natural story for the show to tell. An alien baby threat seems like it would work on The X-Files, but under the circumstances, it was more smelly than scary.

      • I haven’t read all the comments so I apologize if someone else covers these points, but Iwanted to chime in and say I agree with this timeline. I always thought that part of Per Manum was to give weight to the fact that a baby had been on their minds. It had been touched on in season 7 in Amor Fati and Chimera for Mulder, and we know that it’s been on Scully’s mind since Emily and Home and through Dreamland. I always felt the scenes were to give more meaning to Scully AND Mulder’s loss now that he was abducted. I don’t think it was meant to be a means of explanation for her pregnancy. As far as the timeline, the elevator scene was uncomfortable and felt like part of the friends and nothing more portion of their relationship. That’s early/middle season 6 to me. His saying yes was about the same timeframe – season 6ish. The last scene was intimate. He’s at her place, lots of comforting, the way she kisses him at the end….that leads me to think it’s after they’re in their relationship. If that’s mid season 7, then you’re looking at a year timeline for the IVF without it being the “how” in Requiem. On the ova….in Emily, he tells her all her ova were removed. I don’t recall him telling her he had them at that time. Maybe that’s supposed to be the surprising revelation in Per Manum? I am enjoying this rewatch more than I expected! I’ve avoided 8 and 9 for the most part in the past but I’ve found myself really enjoying Doggett this time around. But, ugh, don’t get me started on the brain disease thing…..fast forward, FTW.

  6. Mulder and Scully coming together totally gets the blame. I’ll mention it more later, especially when we get to IWTB, but making the relationship an “issue” and something they felt they needed to actually write into the scripts as plot (instead of something that happened despite them and just pleasantly hummed in the background) caused them to lose sight of the conspiracy, fabricate stupid drama, and cause everything else to suffer. The show would have been fine if they just accepted what happened and continued on. M/S in a romantic relationship did not kill the show. It’s actually the only thing that saved it when it was floundering. Seriously…would we have all been sitting here talking about they show all these years later if they cast any other actors who didn’t have this “lightning in a bottle” chemistry? I doubt it would have made it past the first season.

    They did have a lot to wrap up at the end and new characters who, sadly, were their new focus since they were going to be carrying the show in the next season (did they know there was going to be a next season during the latter half of season 8?). I read that David wanted to do an episode that focused on Mulder dealing with his abduction and adjusting back into his life, but CC didn’t want to because Doggett was really the new focus of the show. We really could have used that kind of an episode and not have M/S pushed to the B story. You’d think they’d want to wrap these beautiful characters up in the way they truly deserved. It almost feels spiteful the way it was all treated. Bad blood because David was leaving the show, maybe?

    The dream would be an epic FTF style series of episodes (or an entire season) where Scully kicks major alien butt and saves Mulder from the spaceship. Then, together, they fight against colonization. It could have been epic. If only they opted for that at the end of season 6 instead of the magical spaceship that is the key to everything in Biogenesis. What was the point of all of that? I wish they weren’t just working season to season doing whatever to pass the time while hoping to get renewed and ACTUALLY had some sort of plan.

    • Sorry…I meant to make this as a reply to your other answer, but I always forget to hit the reply button!

    • making the relationship an “issue” and something they felt they needed to actually write into the scripts as plot (instead of something that happened despite them and just pleasantly hummed in the background) caused them to lose sight of the conspiracy, fabricate stupid drama, and cause everything else to suffer.

      THIS! Somebody tattoo this on me!

      That’s the perfect description because that’s all Mulder and Scully’s relationship ever needed to do what hum in the background. Occasionally, their affection bubbles up to the surface when faced with dangers or heavy emotional pressures. But it was never necessary to make a thing of it at all. I didn’t ask for a baby…

      The show would have been fine if they just accepted what happened and continued on. M/S in a romantic relationship did not kill the show. It’s actually the only thing that saved it when it was floundering.

      :::emotional whisper::: My hero!

      I read that David wanted to do an episode that focused on Mulder dealing with his abduction and adjusting back into his life, but CC didn’t want to because Doggett was really the new focus of the show. We really could have used that kind of an episode and not have M/S pushed to the B story. You’d think they’d want to wrap these beautiful characters up in the way they truly deserved. It almost feels spiteful the way it was all treated. Bad blood because David was leaving the show, maybe?

      I read somewhere recently that David wished they could have had a chance to explore Mulder’s emotions after his abduction more. I didn’t read anything about CC blocking it. There were a combination of factors that kind of hamstrung Seasons 8 and 9. There was a lot that was uncertain and the only things that were certain were their limitations. After all, David only agreed to half a season.

      But whether it couldn’t be helped or their was stress or resentment or wear… the result was that it felt rushed at the end. Looking back, I wish we could have had a focused end to the Mulder and Scully era that payed them proper attention and *then* given our full attention to Doggett and Reyes. But network television being what it is, I think they felt they had to attach the audience to Doggett and Reyes before Mulder and Scully left so that we would bother to tune in to Season 9. I’m probably in the minority but I would have tuned in regardless. It just hurt more and tested my allegiance more to watch Doggett and Reyes and be hit by constant reminders of Mulder and Scully, not the least of which was the presence of Scully herself.

      The magical spaceship that is the key to everything was the beginning of the end for me.

  7. I have been waiting (im)patiently since you began posting reviews again for you to hit the final stretch of the 8th season when Mulder returns. I remember watching this season when it aired and how I was so overwhelmed by the emotional torture that his absence created for Scully (and perhaps others… ) that when he returned I was quick to dismiss any ridiculous amendments to prior plot points and clunky mythology stumbles. I remember watching this episode on a VHS tape (I had been on vacation and had set the VCR to record this) and the scenes between Mulder and Scully rendered me breathless, even their first scene together that people seem to find awkward. It was because I had been waiting so long just to see them together again, and the payoff (to me) was magnificent! I was like blah blah plot, ova, pfffft, DUDE his sort of shy smile when he says he’ll do “the procedure” (!!), OMG HE’S SLEEPING ON HER COUCH AND HAS NEVER LOOKED SO HOT, FOREHEAD KISS>FOREHEADS TOUCH>NECK KISS!!

    It’s interesting that when I’ve rewatched these late season 8 episodes more recently, when I should have more of a critical view of how they handle plot points and whatever, I’m still just drawn back to that raw emotion that I felt almost 16 years ago. That’s why I enjoy reading reviews such as yours that acknowledge the astounding and unparalleled gold that is Mulder and Scully together, as well as look at the episodes with a more critical eye. It’s a fun way to examine the show even more, although I’m still first and foremost just a sucker for M/S scenes. Maybe it did turn into a soap opera, but I was on board during season 8. Season 9? I pretend that season 8 ended with Existence and then The Truth (I know that doesn’t make sense at all) and that was all she wrote. Perhaps I need to lift my season 9 embargo before January 24th… What’s that saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you”? Maybe that’s watching season 9… yeesh.

    Thanks again for a fun read. I love your reviews.

    • I’ll be honest, once I got to Mulder’s return I just zipped through and watched the rest of Season 8. It’s like I was starving and Mulder and Scully were my Thanksgiving table.

      It’s sad because you know their time is almost over AND that pretty much every other moment on screen pales in comparison to their scenes together for the rest of the season. That doesn’t bode well and that doesn’t put a potential Season 9 in a favorable light.

      BUT, there were bright spots in Season 9. There were. The ghost of what Mulder and Scully once were was NOT one of them… that kinda damaged Season 9. I wish they’d made a clean break from the Mulder and Scully era.

      Thanks!!! I do appreciate it.

  8. “I’m sorry, but didn’t Mulder already confess that to Scully in front of a judge in ‘Emily’?” No. What Mulder told the judge is that all of Scully’s ova had been extracted from her during her abduction, and that Emily had been conceived as a result of that experiment. He told the judge that Scully knew she was unable to conceive but that she didn’t know the cause. He didn’t tell her about the ova he had taken from the clinic and (apparently) had tested.

    Scully would have found out that she was not ovulating soon after being returned back in season two. Without ova, she would have been prematurely menopausal. Given her age, she almost certainly would have been placed on hormone replacement therapy.

    It is very convenient for the plot that Scully ends up with a fertility specialist who is working for the Consortium. All I can think is that Parenti was recruited by the Project as a consequence of his connection to Scully. Many prominent scientists were working for the Project.

    I never thought Scully was in doubt as to who the father was and how the child was conceived. The series did deliberately try to obfuscate the matter to create drama. The only reason I can of for why she wouldn’t have had a paternity test was the fetus’s safety, especially after Mulder was abducted. Didn’t Cassandra Spender say that she’d had a fetus taken from her during one of her abductions?

    I think the timing of the IVF was deliberately vague. She could have decided to try IVF as early as season five. She was ready to adopt Emily. Her brother and sister-in-law had a new baby. She was free of cancer and ready to have a life. But they weren’t in a romantic relationship in season five, which explains why they aren’t acting like a couple in the elevator scene, and why she brings up the cancer, too.

    Mulder seems confused as hell about the baby, but that’s understandable. I wish she’d have told him right away but my guess about that is she was trying to protect him. “Hi, honey. You’ve been dead and buried for the past few months, and by the way, you’re going to be a father in a few short weeks.”

    We don’t have a date stamp for when Mulder was abducted, do we?

    • No. What Mulder told the judge is that all of Scully’s ova had been extracted from her during her abduction

      True, true. But I always assumed that while that scene is abbreviated, at some point Mulder would have to explain to Scully how he knew that her ova were gone. He knew because he had found and confiscated them. As I recall, Scully was shocked in “Emily”(but admittedly, it’s been a while). Which is why it also doesn’t make sense that she’s shocked here again to know that her ova are missing. She already knew.

      Scully would have found out that she was not ovulating soon after being returned back in season two. Without ova, she would have been prematurely menopausal. Given her age, she almost certainly would have been placed on hormone replacement therapy.

      I’m so glad you brought this up. I was assuming as I watched “Per Manum” that Scully must’ve been missing a significant amount of ova to make it near impossible for her to conceive. I had forgotten that they had ever used the word “all”. But you’re right. They did. That makes more sense because if she were ovulating at all then she could get pregnant unless there was something wrong with the eggs, something that’s never indicated. So this all should mean that Scully was aware as early as Season 2 of significant changes in her body function.

      It is possible, though, for women to have anovulatory periods. Which is actually what usually happens in the first one or two years of menstruation. Scully may not have noticed for a while and she might not have gone into early menopause. These types of things aren’t all that uncommon. It seems likely that she would have shown signs of a hormonal imbalance at the very least, though…

      It is very convenient for the plot that Scully ends up with a fertility specialist who is working for the Consortium. All I can think is that Parenti was recruited by the Project as a consequence of his connection to Scully. Many prominent scientists were working for the Project.

      You’re definitely right about Parenti working for the Syndicate. That’s confirmed in “Essence”. It sounds like, though, the project had been going on for years. So somehow they must have led Scully to Parenti. I’ve finished the season and I’m still unsure of exactly what part Parenti played or didn’t play in Scully’s pregnancy.

      I never thought Scully was in doubt as to who the father was and how the child was conceived.

      They gave her doubts and fears, but I don’t think she started out that way at all.

      The series did deliberately try to obfuscate the matter to create drama.

      I think they would have done better to give Scully a new challenge rather than try to create paranoia over something that had already been settled. But that’s hindsight. I can see why they thought it was a delicious idea at the time.

      The only reason I can of for why she wouldn’t have had a paternity test was the fetus’s safety,

      You mean safety in the womb or protection from abduction?

      If it’s safety in the womb, she had them perform an amniocentesis so she could have found out right there without putting the baby at any more risk. If it’s protection from abduction, would she have been afraid that they’d want Mulder’s baby? I think Cassandra did say that, but Scully hadn’t thought this baby was the result of an abduction or testing yet.

      We don’t have a date stamp for when Mulder was abducted, do we?

      May 2000.

      I love this stuff. You guys are making my morning.

      • “True, true. But I always assumed that while that scene is abbreviated, at some point Mulder would have to explain to Scully how he knew that her ova were gone. He knew because he had found and confiscated them. As I recall, Scully was shocked in “Emily”(but admittedly, it’s been a while). Which is why it also doesn’t make sense that she’s shocked here again to know that her ova are missing. She already knew.”

        I actually JUST went back and watched this scene in “Emily” because I was curious – and Scully is genuinely surprised when Mulder tells the judge Scully’s ova were taken from her. And then later on, while sitting on Bill and Tara’s couch, she asks Mulder why he never told her…flash forward three seasons and the conversation is rehashed in that elevator except now Scully actually says “You found them?” …

        [Emily]
        Judge: Agent Mulder, help me out here, does FBI stand for Federal Bureau of Imagination? am i to understand that your partner, along with a dozen other women in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was abducted by employee’s of our federal governmment?
        Mulder: She was missing for four weeks, that’s documented in the file
        Judge: And you found evidence that during this time, she was subjected to a series of experiments, where, you say, they extracted her ova?
        Mulder: Yes. ALL of them.
        [shot of Scully looking confused then shocked]
        Judge: Can that be done?
        Mulder: I believe it can and was and that Emily Sim was conceived as a result of those experiments (he then also later states that Dana has know for sometime that she cannot conceive…)

        Scully: Why didn’t you tell me, Mulder?
        Mulder: I never expected this…I thought I was protecting you…

        [Per Manum]
        Scully: I had a doctor’s appointment and I don’t know, I guess time just got away from me
        Mulder: Is anything the matter?
        Scully: Nothing. I just, I, uh, went for a walk.
        Mulder: Then what’s wrong?
        Scully: I’m sorry I haven’t told you, I don’t know why I haven’t. I mean, you were always there for me during my illness, but um…
        Mulder: Don’t make me guess…
        Scully: I was left unable to conceive with whatever tests that they did on me…and I am not ready to accept that I will never have children.
        Mulder: [gets out of elevator, but turns around] Scully, there’s something I haven’t told you, either, and I hope you’ll forgive me and understand why I would have kept it from you.
        Scully: What?
        Mulder: During my investigation into your illness I found out the reason why you were left barren. Your ova were taken from you [Scully’s horrified and surprised face] and stored in a government lab.
        Scully: What? You found them?

        So no matter WHEN the elevator scene happens in “Per Manum” it doesn’t make sense with “Emily” or even vice versa…

        I’ve wanted – for years – to sit down and do a full timeline for the show just to see about some of these little seeming inconsistencies especially around this time! Are we to believe Scully found out she was pregnant in May or September (which would put William being born in either Jan/Feb or May) – I WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!!!

        • You’re awesome for this.

          It was definitely May, they just unnaturally dragged out her pregnancy to make it fit the Season 8 timeline.

          • “…they just unnaturally dragged out her pregnancy to make it fit the Season 8 timeline.”

            RIGHT! Cause then in DeadAlive Scully should be no more than 4 months pregnant since she isn’t really showing yet – which would put the ep around August in the “Mulder was abducted in May” timeline – but the ground is covered in snow! Even in VA and especially NC it wouldn’t be snowing in August!!!

            seriously not a fan of these dang timeline issues…. :/

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  15. I know I’m late to the game here and I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this already, but I have a great game you can play to figure out when the flashbacks take place; you’re gonna think I’m a genius: It’s the Name That Season by Scully’s Hair Style Game! The flashbacks take place during late Season 6 (Post Hilary Clinton Hair Season Six Style Era). This just makes things even more perplexing, because, hey, remember when Scully got shot in the gut in Tithonus? Maybe THAT’S why the artificial insemination didn’t work! Also, M and S are clearly in pre-dating, BFF, dependent mode a la Milagro with that hug at the end.

    Now onto my rant about the pregnancy arch.

    I FRIGGN’ HATE THE PREGNANCY/WILLIAM ARCH. IT IS SO DUMB AND THROW AWAY THAT BY THE TIME THE SECOND MOVIE CAME OUT AND THEY HAD THAT PILLOW TALK SCENE, MY DAD AND I BOTH SAID TO EACH OTHER (as of course we went out with the rest of the geeks and saw it on the day it came out) “WHO’S WILLIAM?” THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN THE PREGNANCY/WILLIAM STORY LINE WAS THE ‘MULDER’S DYING’ STORYLINE. AKA, THE ‘MULDER’S DYING FOR NO CONCEVIABLE REASON THAT COULD FURTHER ANYTHING ABOUT THE STORY OR MAKE ANY SENSE IN THE CONTINUITY OF THE SHOW AND, OH LOOK, WE’RE JUST GONNA THROW IT AWAY ANYWAY WHEN WE BRING MULDER BACK FROM THE DEAD VIA “REALLY REALLY GOOD (HUMAN MADE) ANTIBIOTICS THAT WILL KEEP HIM FROM TURNING INTO A SUPER SOLDIER.” CHEKHOV IS SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE BECAUSE SOMEONE STOLE HIS GUN AND JUST LEFT IT SITTING ON THE PATIO TABLE WHILE THEY WENT OFF TO SIP MINT JULEPS! WHEN RECREUM FIRST AIRED I REMEMBER ALL OF US THINKING “OH NO; THE CANCER’S BACK!” WHY, OH WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE THAT ROUTE RATHER THAN THIS ASININE, HALF-ARSED BABY JESUS STORYLINE THAT ENDS UP NOT EVEN PAYING OFF IN SEASON 9?! WATCHING SCULLY DEAL WITH CANCER WHILE TRYING TO HIDE IT FROM THE FBI SO THEY WOULDN’T TAKE HER OFF TRYING TO FIND MULDER WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH MORE COMPELLING. I’M NOT EVEN GOING TO START ON HOW THE WRITERS KEEP TRYING TO TEASE US ABOUT ‘ARE THEY TOGETHER? IS IT THEIR BABY?’ BLOODY! OF COURSE WE KNOW IT’S THEIR BABY! STOP TRYING TO BE CUTE; YOU’RE LOOKING LIKE AN OLD HAG, 1013! AND AT THIS POINT SCULLY’S BEEN PREGNANT SO LONG, THE REAL MYSTERY IS HOW SHE DIDN’T GIVE BIRTH TO BENJAMIN BUTTON!

    Here endith the rant.

    And why can’t Scully, Master of the Universe, or at least Dr. Extraordinaire, read an ultra sound? I guess she was too busy coaching Ben Carson on baby brain surgery to take a stint in OB.
    I LOVE Adam Baldwin. He’s such an under appreciated actor. I think this is him pre-Firefly (a man named Jayne). He’s fantastic as the stoic/cryptic new Deep Throat.

    • Everything about the IVF attempt makes much more sense with Mulder and Scully in solid BFF mode.

      And you’re not alone! I *just* watched a youtube clip of DD and GA tonight where they joked about forgetting they had made a baby when they went to film IWTB.

      Me, I wasn’t for the baby, but I wasn’t anti the baby… in and of itself. The way it all went down, though! That’s what makes William so frustrating, not so much that he exists, but the constant back and forth about his origins and purpose. I won’t give the game away for anyone who’s watching for the first time and hasn’t gotten to future frustrations yet, but there are future frustrations waiting. Trust me.

      I guess she was too busy coaching Ben Carson on baby brain surgery to take a stint in OB.

      Oh, we will go there…

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  17. Yeah….This episode is the mother of all continuity problems. Really enjoyed seeing Mulder and Scully get all warm and fuzzy with each other again.

  18. OMG, the continuity errors, the backtracks and the but waits! As a copy editor, it makes me want to pull out my hair. As a Phile, and a shipper Phile at that, it makes me want to scream!!!! Still. All these years later.

    Season 8 could’ve been so much better. They knew before Requiem aired that there would be a Season 8. They knew around the same time that they’d have David for only half the season …. perhaps even down to a specific number of minutes (?), they had the whole hiatus to come up with a coherent story arc, and THAT’S what they came up with? They squandered David’s time, IMO, in those early eps, they jerked fans around over William’s paternity, they really tested our goodwill and loyalty. And we haven’t even gotten to Season 9 yet!

    OK, I’m putting down the mic and getting off the soapbox now.

    That said, I loved the MS scenes. Watch, rewind. Watch, rewind. And LOL about dating flashback by Scully’s hair. Very good tactic! I read in another discussion about Scully’s IVF treatments that it can be quite lengthy, so Season 6 works for me too. They seem to still be platonic — to quote Carter’s boneheaded S10 comment of a few months ago — tho it looked like Scully was aiming for Mulder’s luscious lips and then switched last minute to his jaw/cheek.

    OK, I’ll stop now. Time to watch the next two and get all moist-eyed 😓

  19. Very late to the party. Great blog!
    Just finished rewatching X-files. Love the show. Please don’t hate me for saying this but I think including family has been a constant of the show given how Mulder’s parents and sister were always in the center of the conspiracy so it made sense to me that they ended up having a child.
    My personal crazy theory is that the first flashback in this episode happens after Milagro. That episode was not only for the fans but for Scully to do a bit of soul searching that might allow her to revisit the possibility of motherhood I also think that after Milagro is more likely they were in awkward mode given their experiences with the writer and his version of Scully. I think they definitely were still friends when she asked her to be the sperm donor. A lover would had ask him to be the father not a donor and would had probably kissed after he accepted no to mention he would had gone with her not wait for her on her apartment. Also Milagro is miracle in Spanish which should be William’s middle name for all intents and purposes.

    So I think they became physical at some point after Mulder says that she “Should never give up on a miracle” which kind of fits the whole Mulder’s find God theme of his journey. If you want an specific date I would say Millenium kiss. The whole “The world didn’t ended” line plus he surrounding her shoulders while they walk makes me think that once they broke this barrier they have no reason not to keep going and after years of sexual tension I don’t see any of them wanting to take it any slower.

    Now the way I understand it they mutated the embryo before the tried the implantation on Scully so if any of them ‘took’ then even if Mulder was the father they would still be an alien hybrid. So Scully confusion comes because probably she and Mulder were intimate right before the last treatment so she is not sure which one implanted. She seems completely oblivious to her symptoms in Requiem which is odd women TTC usually test for pregnancy the second they feel any symptoms so I guess she tested too early and found nothing and assumed it failed again and was more focused on work.
    And as to why William has powers? Well Scully has alien DNA and Mulder had the black oil on him that seemed to give him some power over the spaceship fragment even though Cancer man stole it from him he probably still had altered DNA although not the want that can protect him like it did to Scully.

    • I actually couldn’t agree more with your comment on why Mulder didn’t go with Scully to find out the result of the appointment etc.

      I don’t wanna rehash everything everyone else has said other than I feel the frustrations too and as this is my first time watching through, I still have so many questions even AFTER reading all these brilliant reviews and comments. Y’all are so funny and clearly we are all on the same wavelength!

      I must admit that these last few eps have made me realise what a good guy Doggett clearly is – I have been putting way too much pressure on him and Scully to have a close r/ship like M&S but seeing them back together FINALLY had me on the edge of my seat and gave me what I had been longing for.

      I’ll also say that as a Scully mega fan I’m so fed up with her being hit with bad news after bad news seemingly every freaking episode. Like really, how many times does one woman need to be hospitalised/on their death bed/alone and pregnant/attending the funeral of a loved one/coping with the disappearance of her lover…I MEAN C’MON. Give the gal a break! And she barely even sheds a tear. God, what a STRONG ASS BITCH.

      • P.S “forehead sex” and “Benjamin Button” had me in stitches. Thank GOD somebody else had been wondering about when the actual f*ck this baby was gonna start showing and I dunno, actually growing like a normal fetus.

      • I’m glad you liked my ramblings and yes Scully is strong AF. I hope the show gives her a nice happier ending alongside Mulder. They both had earned it.

  20. I know this is late but bear with me. After David hinted on Twitter about a season 1, I have been rewatching the series and I have a new perspective on this episode.
    The continuity error over Emily is inescapable so I’ll just leave that.
    The first few times I watched this I was as pissed off and confused as Salome, but now I have a new Theory
    I now think it’s clear this episode happened earlier than season 7. Dialogue between her and Mulder makes it impossible for me to believe otherwise. I don’t think the episode is meant to make us question paternity or timeline or the relationship as we knew it.
    Scullys smile as she tells Skinner about her pregnancy makes it clear she believes this is the miracle Mulder told her not to give up on, she believes this baby was conceived naturally with her lover and best friend.
    The flashbacks of per manum need to be understood in the context of the current events episode. Now there’s this man claiming his wife has given birth to an alien baby, a woman whose doctor was the same that administered Scully’s IVF treatments.
    Only now is she becoming doubtful and scared that her pregnancy isn’t what she thought. She’s worried she’s been tampered with in some way without her knowledge. Not surprising given her history.
    She’s worried it’s not the happy miracle that she up till now thought it was and in fact something more sinister may be going on because a barren woman should not be able to give birth.
    But she only had supposedly one IVF treatment a long time ago and it failed, you say? how could she be afraid that it’s a problem now if it was in season 6 this occurred?
    Well I think she may be worried that the “IVF treatment” wasn’t any IVF treatment after all and if an alien is inside her it clearly isn’t going to have the same normal gestation and growth as a human baby. Plus her body has been tampered with against her will twice before. I think it’s more just meant to be a scary freaky episode about the possibility of an alien baby and not necessarily meant to shake the whole Mulder Scully relationship.

    • Is never too late to talk to me about X-Files theories!

      The continuity error over Emily is inescapable so I’ll just leave that.

      I actually don’t think it was an error more like a bad direction. Scully’s surprise seems to be about Mulder finding her specific ova and keeping that information from her even though Mulder started with a short summary of the whole thing she knew already knew it seemed to have been to contextualize the information instead of throwing it without some base.
      I now think it’s clear this episode happened earlier than season 7. Dialogue between her and Mulder makes it impossible for me to believe otherwise.

      I personally place it between Milagro and the Unnatural. The script said a year earlier and she was only 14 weeks pregnant at the time of Per Manum.

      Only now is she becoming doubtful and scared that her pregnancy isn’t what she thought. She’s worried she’s been tampered with in some way without her knowledge. Not surprising given her history.
      She’s worried it’s not the happy miracle that she up till now thought it was and in fact something more sinister may be going on because a barren woman should not be able to give birth.

      I totally agree if Scully had been celibate for all those years she wouldn’t had been so happy to announce her pregnancy.

      But she only had supposedly one IVF treatment a long time ago and it failed, you say? how could she be afraid that it’s a problem now if it was in season 6 this occurred?

      This people can manipulate DNA maybe she thought they extracted all her human ova and left alien ones? In Essence they talk about ‘triggering’ alien pregnancies so that might be what she was afraid off.

      I think it’s more just meant to be a scary freaky episode about the possibility of an alien baby and not necessarily meant to shake the whole Mulder Scully relationship.

      I think it was obvious by the way Mulder joked about who the father was and by the way Scully acted, no to mention that the lone gunmen were pretty much told offscreen in “Three words” that he knew it was him. I think CC just didn’t wanted to spell it out because he knew they will demand more screentime for the relationship and he didn’t wanted that.

      Thanks for answering my ramblings!

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